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This article was published 21/4/2020 (219 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Three dozen more women have stepped forward to publicly accuse embattled fashion mogul Peter Nygard of drugging, assaulting and raping them over the course of five decades, including 18 Canadians and multiple Winnipeggers.
The accusations are part of a class-action lawsuit originally filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on Feb. 13. Late Monday night, the lawsuit was amended, expanding the number of accusers to 46 from 10.
Twelve of the women say they were minors when Nygard allegedly raped them.
Nygard, 78, speaking through his attorneys, has repeatedly maintained his innocence, claiming he’s at the centre of an elaborate conspiracy by people with a personal vendetta against him intent on ruining his reputation.
The allegations have not been proven in court.
On top of the 36 new claims of sexual misconduct, the earliest of which dates to the 1970s, the amended lawsuit names 12 Nygard employees who reportedly played a role in helping the Winnipeg fashion tycoon allegedly operate a decades-long sex-trafficking ring with impunity.
"The Nygard Companies, through Nygard and a close ring of upper-level executives and employees, knowingly and continuously conspired with Nygard to enable, act as a front, and conceal Nygard’s criminal activity," the lawsuit states.
"Defendants knew that Nygard would use means of alcohol, drugs, force, fraud, and/or other forms of coercion to rape, sexually assault, sexually batter, molest, and/or sex traffic these children and women and, in many cases, with knowledge that they were younger than 18 years old."
The lawsuit alleges Nygard and associates used "violence, intimidation, bribery, payoffs, and evidence destruction" to silence victims. In many cases, it’s alleged Nygard made use of non-disclosure agreements to keep women from speaking out.
Jay Prober, one of Nygard’s lawyers, characterized the lawsuit as a fantasy during an interview Tuesday with the Free Press.
"I describe this as a work of fiction, quite frankly. The allegations from the women are fiction. The alleged participation of Nygard employees are fiction. The allegations of conspiracy are fiction. It’s really quite preposterous," Prober said.
One woman, who is referred to only as "Jane Doe No. 37," claims Peter Nygard raped her in the bathroom of a Winnipeg restaurant in 1977, when she was 14 or 15 years old.
According to the lawsuit, the woman’s father was in the fur business and often sold materials to Nygard for his fashion line. As a result, she had frequently encountered Nygard while working at her father’s store.
“I describe this as a work of fiction, quite frankly. The allegations from the women are fiction. The alleged participation of Nygard employees are fiction. The allegations of conspiracy are fiction. It’s really quite preposterous.” — Jay Prober, one of Peter Nygard’s lawyers
According to the court documents, the woman says she was in a Winnipeg restaurant where Nygard also happened to be eating; she went to use the bathroom, but since it was occupied, waited outside.
"She noticed Nygard behind her in line. When (she) went to enter the bathroom, Nygard pushed her in and closed the door. Nygard raped (her) in the bathroom," the lawsuit states. "(She) was a virgin at the time (and) did not tell anyone because she was afraid, ashamed and embarrassed."
The woman further claims in the lawsuit she was drugged and raped by Nygard a second time several years later.
Another plaintiff says she was a 14-year-old in a child-welfare program in Winnipeg when she first met Nygard. She was in a public space frequented by low-income children when Nygard first approached her in a luxury vehicle and enticed her to come with him, dangling promises of modeling opportunities and paid trips to California, the lawsuit says.
Instead, the court documents say Nygard coerced her to perform oral sex on him in his car. Over the next two years, the woman claims Nygard repeatedly picked her up and paid her for sex acts in U.S. currency.
“(The woman) begged Nygard to let her go, but he stated that he could not trust her to not tell anyone. (She) was afraid that Nygard would kill her.”
Another woman says Nygard held her prisoner and repeatedly raped her in Winnipeg in 1993, when she was 20 years old.
The woman claims she was flown to Winnipeg from her home in Vancouver under the guise of a modelling opportunity. Upon arrival, she was taken to Nygard’s apartment, which was attached to the company warehouse on Notre Dame Avenue, the documents say.
The lawsuit alleges Nygard locked her in the apartment for three days, where she was drugged, raped and assaulted.
"(The woman) begged Nygard to let her go, but he stated that he could not trust her to not tell anyone. (She) was afraid that Nygard would kill her," the lawsuit alleges.
The woman was able to get the key to the apartment while Nygard slept, fleeing naked except for a coat, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit alleges the woman wanted to contact law enforcement, but was instructed by a Nygard associate not to, because Nygard "owns" the Winnipeg Police Service.
The WPS declined comment Tuesday, citing the fact the lawsuit remains before the courts.
The WPS would also not reveal if an investigation has been launched into the sex-crimes allegations against Nygard, but noted he has not been charged with a crime.
On Feb. 25, special agents with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and detectives with the New York Police Department raided Nygard’s international headquarters in New York City.
For at least five months before the raid, Nygard was under investigation by a joint child-exploitation task force run out of the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, officials said.
Prober has said law enforcement will find no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of his client. He also said the women accusing Nygard of wrongdoing are motivated by money.
"The amended class-action lawsuit comes as a result of the American lawyers going out and beating the bushes to try to bolster their class-action and find more women, in terms of the result of the advertising that was done by the lawyers," Prober said.
"And as I predicted before, more women are in fact jumping on what they perceive to be the money train, the gravy train. They see this as a cash cow. I believe that explains the rather ludicrous number of additional plaintiffs."
Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.